We Hit the Ground Running

September 24th
We get up early and look forward to a full day.  I will be posting our schedule at the beginning of the days from now on.  Here is today’s:

5:30 TO 6:30 MEETING WITH ASMITA – Analysis of sales

Today was the first day of the Embroidery Design Workshops, where we plan for Spring 2010.  We met with 2 supervisors and 6 other women from different cooperatives.  One supervisor has the role of drawing the patterns on the garment, while the other makes sure that the women  are all involved in suggesting ideas and then following the designs.  She also keeps track of how many hours of embroidery go into each garment.

Why is tracking the hours of embroidery important? Hand embroidery is a major tool in fulfilling our mission of providing employment to the women.  Three-fourths of the women work at home doing hand embroidery, so at this early stage we need to make sure that there is enough work on each garment.  The  supervisors also are able to draw upon their experience to anticipate whether a certain embroidery design could cause problems in production.  For example, when a garment changes sizes, it is possible that the size and position of the embroidered motif may also need to be altered.  Or, if the pattern of the fabric is being used as a base for the embroidery, the artisans will need to know how to adapt to the fact that the fabric patterns may not be in exactly the same position in all the produced garments.

For the first half hour, we met with the supervisors, Meeta and Deepika, along with and Shaily, the MarketPlace Design manager.  We talked about the goals of the workshop, what we all expected to achieve, and outlined  each person’s responsibility.  This is the first time Meeta and  Deepika  are supervisors.  We rotate the supervisor position to give different  women the chance to develop their leadership skills and abilities.

The workshop got off to a  good start.  We usually begin with the easy garments just to get warmed up.   But this time we actually started with some of the more difficult things, and yet everything seemed to work pretty smoothly.  The most challenging garments are those with a very busy fabric, for we need to figure out how to make the  embroidery stand out.  We experimented with different ideas until it felt right and  the embroidery plan was completed.

Lalita and I usually go home for lunch around 12.30, since we live only about 10 minutes by auto rickshaw from the MarketPlace workshop.  Today Shaily joined us.  Periodically, we like to have a pot-luck lunch with a staff member of either MarketPlace or SHARE.  The rule is that we cannot talk “work” during these lunches because it is a chance to get to know each other on a personal basis.  We all returned  around 2.30 and we continued with the embroidery workshop and other details related to the new clothing line until  around 5.30.  After that, we took a look at the books and discussed how sales are going.  On returning home, we checked our emails and dealt with things in the US till around 7.30.  Because of the time difference – India is 9 ½ hours ahead of Chicago – we communicate best in the evening, when it’s still morning there.  After that we took a bit of a break before having  dinner around 9 pm.  Dinner in India is typically this late, which drove myMidwestern American husband nuts when he first started coming to India!  We put in another hour of work on our computers after dinner.  Yes, the schedule is really grueling, but I remember what our father once told us:   you do not need a break if you are doing different kinds of things and are being challenged in different ways!!  That’s certainly the case  in Mumbai.

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